Gadgets

Microsoft in 2019: Where's Windows?

Microsoft's 2019 is the latest entry in the genre of future product dramatization videos. There's a five-minute version, but also a tightly-edited two minute excerpt.

The imaginative videos were created by Microsoft Office Labs, a group inside the company that "tests ideas by building prototypes and gathering usage data." At the end, a related video list contains longer versions of each scene -- retail, manufacturing, education, health care and more.

The super-slim and easy-to-use handheld gadgets and wall-sized transparent displays handled by the video's shoppers, students and office workers make Tom Cruise's setup in Minority Report seem obsolete. More important than whizzy interfaces, the videos promise much more extensive collaboration, instant information retrieval, and multimedia communication.

The level of personal data tapped in some scenes will creep some people out. Skip to 0:25 for the scene that shows a corporate visitor being tracked on a blueprint map of the office.

However, the biggest surprise in 2019 is the lack of a Windows logo, "Start" button, or other Microsoft branding in the clip's mocked-up UIs. The company has backed off from the heavy-handed "Windows Everywhere" campaign of a few years ago. We don't need to be told what operating system these gadgets run.

Another smart omission: In the short version of 2019, no one makes a videophone call.

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